Vauxhall Astra Hatchback full 9 point review
So far we’ve tried the 103bhp 1.0-litre petrol, the 148bhp 1.4 petrol and the 134bhp 1.6 diesel engine. The smallest petrol has enough oomph, but the 1.4 is a much stronger and more flexible performer. The diesel pulls strongly at medium revs, and actually makes the Astra pretty brisk if you work it hard.
Ride & Handling
The Astra feels alert and willing to change direction, plus there’s little body lean in corners. The steering could be better, though; it’s a little too light and the weight doesn’t build quickly enough when you turn in to corners at speed, which dents your confidence slightly. At least the steering’s lightness helps make the Astra easy to park and manoeuvre. You’re certainly aware of bumps, but things never become too jarring – even over badly eroded surfaces.
The Astra’s petrol engines are relatively smooth and quiet, but the 1.6 diesel isn’t quite so refined. You feel some vibration through the controls when you put your foot down, and hear a typical diesel rattle whenever you accelerate hard. All Astras kick up a bit of road noise on the motorway, and the suspension can also be heard working away on poorly surfaces roads. The manual gearshift is light and easy, though.
Buying & Owning
The Astra is priced in line with the Seat Leon, so it’s much cheaper than an equivalent VW Golf. The diesel models have respectably low CO2 emissions, and even the petrol engines promise decent real-world fuel economy. Tech Line is the trim to go for if you’re a company car driver, but we’d recommend SRi or SRi Nav if you’re buying privately thanks to the more attractive finance deals available on these trims.
Quality & Reliability
Cabin quality hasn’t always been Vauxhall’s strongest suit, but the Astra puts up a strong showing here. The dashboard feels solid, and most of the buttons and switches operate with reassuring precision. True, the Astra isn’t quite as classy inside as a Skoda Octavia or VW Golf, but it impresses next to many other rivals. There’s little reliability data yet on this generation of Astra, but the previous model scored above-average marks for reliability in our latest customer satisfaction survey.
Safety & Security
All models come with stability control to help you avoid an accident, but in case you do have one, there are front, side and curtain airbags to help keep you safe. Tyre pressure monitoring is also standard, although only the more expensive trim levels come with automatic emergency braking; this is a cost option on other versions. An engine immobiliser is fitted to every Astra, and SRi editions and above also come with an alarm.
Behind The Wheel
The Astra’s driving position is comfortable enough, and there’s plenty of adjustment to the seat and steering wheel. It’s disappointing that you have to pay extra for adjustable lumbar support on most models; without this, the seat is rather short of lower-back support. Forward visibility is decent, but over-the-shoulder vision could be better and all-round parking sensors are a relatively pricey option on all trims.
Space & Practicality
The Astra’s sleek shape comes from a roofline that appears to plunge towards the rear of the car, but don’t go thinking this means there’s a shortage of passenger space. Head- and legroom are generous in both the front and the back, and the wide cabin means shoulder space is decent, too. The boot is big and split-folding rear seats give extra versatility, although it’s a pity there’s no option of a height-adjustable boot floor to iron out the large lip at the boot entrance.
All versions come with air-conditioning, cruise control, a 7.0in touchscreen infotainment system, Bluetooth and a DAB radio, while popular SRi trim gets you niceties such as automatic wipers, a front armrest and a leather-trimmed steering wheel. Tech Line trim is the best for company car drivers, though; it provides sat-nav yet costs far less than trims with less kit – go figure.